The Checkmate of Pope Benedict

No more moves for the SSPX.

Pope Benedict has effectively brought the dialogue between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X to a magisterial conclusion.  Bishop Fellay has certainly transformed his way of looking at things.  In responding to the grave concerns of three SSPX bishops, Mons. Fellay is now selling Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity.  Or is he?

Within the Society, some are making the conciliar errors into super heresies, absolute evil, worse than anything, in the same way that the liberals have dogmatized this pastoral council. The evils are sufficiently dramatic; there is hardly any reason to exaggerate them further (cf. Roberto de Mattei, Une histoire jamais écrite, p. 22; Mgr. Gherardini, Un débat à ouvrir, p. 53, etc.).

Fellay’s problem is that Pope Benedict has left him nowhere to go other than into the arms of the successor of St. Peter.  It is either that or what Fellay terms as “real schism.”  His view contains a healthy dose of realism.  But the three bishops and the members of the SSPX they represent pose a real problem for Bishop Fellay.  In the above quote Fellay makes reference to the work of de Mattei and Gherardini, neither of whom are convinced that the Council can be reconciled with Tradition.  Indeed, in the preface to his new book Gherardini states:

There remains truly the fact that neither Vatican II can be recognized fully and peacefully in it [Tradition], nor can it be harmonized with the tune of Vatican II. They are two scores that cannot be reciprocally harmonized with the “dominant”, not due to any accidental note, but because one is intrinsically different from the other; and at times even opposed.

There are those who are in the Church that appear to be going out, and then those very much like them who are out and appear to be coming in. This is very uncomfortable fence sitting.  And it is not getting less complicated.  Last month, Monsignor Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, sent a letter to the Institute of the Good Shepherd in France  regarding the results of their canonical visitation.  There he wrote that concerning seminary formation:

Rather than maintaining a critique of Vatican Council II, even a “serious and constructive” one, the efforts of your teachers must point out the transmission of the integrity of the patrimony of the Church, insisting on the hermeneutics of renewal in its continuity and using as support the integrity of Catholic doctrine expounded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One wonders what Fellay and Gherardini would think of this.  Fellay is put in a very uncomfortable position by the three bishops because by accepting the Pope’s terms he will no longer be in a position to dismiss Vatican II, as he even now so casually does:

It has reached a good number (still a minority) of young priests, seminarians, and even includes a small number of young bishops who clearly stand out from their predecessors, who confide in us their sympathy and support, but who are still pretty well stifled by the dominant line in the hierarchy in favor of Vatican II. This hierarchy is losing speed.

He can’t really believe this is consistent with spirit with which Pope Benedict has called the Year of Faith.  Can he?  But he is forced to politicize his position in the interests of winning over the reluctant.

Pope Benedict has a big carrot and a big stick: a personal prelature and the doctrinal preamble.  Checkmate.


18 thoughts on “The Checkmate of Pope Benedict

  1. ” There are those who are in the Church that appear to be going out, and then those very much like them who are out and appear to be coming in.”

    How true. Here we are at a time where the liberal wing of modernism is waning, but the radical traditionalist wing seems eager to be the next generational wave of dissent. It’s maddening.

  2. Brothers, Let me tell you something that have just cheered me. Just before I read this article, I had read other one about the same question of Vatican II. It’s a interview with a priest of the Franciscan Friars of Italy: the Father Serafino M. Lanzetta. The interview was published by Fratres in Unum (a tradiciolanist e very popular Catholic Website in Brazil).

    In fact, Pope Benedict XVI has been a great Pope! Praise to the Lord!

  3. The SSPX will be OK. Those who wish to leave can go back into excommunication. The chapels belong to SSPX not to individual priests. So where will they go?

  4. Fr. Otto,

    I make no claim that Pope Benedict sees it that way. I do not pretend my analogy is beyond criticism. But the analogy is not the point. Either you get the point or you don’t.

  5. I’m glad you make no claim that the Holy Father sees it that way for I am sure he does NOT… though it did convey that tone to me (perhaps that’s just me).

    As I have said before when it comes to the inevitable ordinariate or prelature of the SSPX: A RISING TIDE WILL LIFT ALL BOATS.

    Nothing and no one is perfect. But at least a further sense of masculinity and seriousness will be added to the list of “priests in good standing”. We need them and they need us.

    I wish you well and leave you with this… From your own Tower decree:

    “And peace, Eustace. Do not scold, like a kitchen-girl. No warrior scolds. Courteous words or else hard knocks are his only language (King Tirian, last king of Narnia).”

  6. Mercier,

    So you are saying that the pope is so interested in a canonical solution that he is just going to throw everything he has worked for and the principles he has articulated over the last 50 years to the wind?

  7. Fr. Angelo,

    I am simply saying that we should take what the leaders of SSPX say at face value. If they say that the Pope desires reconciliation even without them changing there positions, then until we have evidence to the contrary we have to accept it. Until the preamble etc. is made public there doesn’t seem to be much sense in declaring a checkmate. We shall see.

  8. My link didn’t post so I will quote the summary of the speech of Fr. Pfluger the 1st assistant of the SSPX: “Recent weeks have revealed that the Pope is so much interested in a canonical solution for the Society that he is ready to seal a deal, even if the Society does not recognize the disputed texts of Vatican II and the New Mass.” This is from the summary of the talk he gave to Spes Unica in Germany.

  9. Mercier,

    Yes, yes. But no such statements were made by either the CDF or Bishop Fellay. In fact, when in April Bishop Fellay communicated a negative response to the CDF, the congregation followed with a statement to the effect that his response was

    not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems underlying the fracture between the Holy See and the Society. At the end of today’s meeting, motivated by the desire to avoid a rupture within the Church and its painful and incalculable consequences, the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X was invited to clarify his position in order to heal the existing fracture, as called for by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Subsequently, Bishop Fellay, to his credit, changed his tune.

    So really you bank with the here-say of Fr. Pfluger, and I will bank with the CDF’s public statement.

  10. I think what impresses me about this brief video is the filial affection I hear in His Excellence’s voice when he speaks of his and our Holy Father.

    I remember watching a video of +Fellay about 8 years ago… and when he spoke of the office and the person of Blessed john Paul II… it was with the same kind of filial charity. He may have disagreed with various prudential moves on the part of the Holy Father at the time… but it was clearly evident to me at least that he loved him because his office was Christ Himself.

    I may be wrong… but this is why I have always held the Society in high regard, despite their self imposed irregular canonical position.

    The change in Bishop Fellay’s praxis is that he has jettisoned the original desire for written clarifications on some of the more difficult aspects of the pastoral council. I believe the various discussions happening surrounding the council have helped in that regard… though others are free to disagree with me. I have never seen this man actually engage in a slight of hand. And I have been watching his actions and words for almost 2 decades now. He is consistent… but he is also, like all of us… a man on a journey to the Son of Mary. We need more men like him, and like you dear Fr. Angelo… in the Church today. It is the balance that true, Marian masculinity can give.

    I’ll shut up now.

    Ave Maria!

  11. Ave Maria!
    True love for our Holy Father means being in full communion in the Church and obedient to him as the shepherd of our Church. Words of affection without it are not real love. I do hope and pray that the SSPX will return to fully enjoy and participate in that love that Christ shares with His Bride, Our Holy Catholic Church.
    In Christ,

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